Sr. Laura Goedken, O.P.
For The Catholic Messenger
(Pope Francis proclaimed a Year of Consecrated Life that began the first Sunday in Advent in 2014 and will conclude Feb. 2, 2016. The Catholic Messenger asked members of religious communities in the Davenport Diocese to reflect on their ministry in religious life.)
The opening quote in the letter from Pope Francis to consecrated men and women is “Always on the road borne along by the virtue that is of pilgrims: joy.” This quote makes me think of the journey that all religious congregations have traveled.
Many look at the graying of sisters and ask if religious life will continue. Some congregations will cease to exist; others will be transformed; religious life will continue.
Our congregation, the Sinsinawa Dominicans, have five women in formation. For me they are transforming those of us who are graying. They are very much like all young women of today. Many of them are not as catechized as I was when I entered at age 18. One of these women is 38 years old and had not received the sacrament of confirmation. She went through RCIA this year with our sisters in her Atlanta parish.
I have been part of a Skype study group with one of our candidates. When prayer was the topic of discussion, she asked about the rosary. “Why would anyone say the rosary?” Our graying sisters grew up with the rosary as part of our daily life.
The Holy Spirit continues to work among us. To quote Pope Francis again, “Consecrated life is a sign of good things to come in human civilization.”
In decades past, sisters founded hospitals and schools; I taught and administered in our schools for 23 years. Now sisters are seeking justice in the church and in society, caring for the earth and reaching out to the poor and the downtrodden.
We might live alone or in small groups but we network and connect with one another on a daily basis. My prayer life and my relationships give me the grace and the stamina to promote the Annual Diocesan Appeal, talk with donors about a pledge or about their estate plans. The Holy Spirit continues to work in and through each of us and brings many surprises.
My daily prayer is to trust in the Lord. When God is in charge, all is good. When I think I need to be in charge, mistakes happen.
(Editor’s note: Sr. Goedken is the development director for the Diocese of Davenport.)